German Sweet Chocolate Cake

by Jennifer on September 7, 2012

in Awesome Treats, Cakes

My grandmother was known for certain dishes. Strawberry shortcake, oily spaghetti (don’t ask), crab imperial. One of most popular was her German Sweet Chocolate Cake. It is funny, I actually remember the frosting more than the cake. She used to keep jars of it in the fridge and I remember sneaking bites of it here and there. Not that I would stick my fingers in a jar of frosting anymore…no, that would be gross, unsanitary…yeah…anyway…

Everyone loved that cake and we never knew exactly how she made it.

Until we found this hiding in her recipe box:

Oh, Grandma, you sly lady!

It kind of makes me love it even more. I like to imagine her walking into a party with this beautiful cake. Everyone gushes and requests the recipe – she smiles and says it is just an old family recipe and quickly changes the subject. No one is the wiser.

Love it.

I’m not gonna lie, regardless of its origin, this is one labor intensive cake. For lazy bakers like me, anyway.  You have to fold in egg whites – does anyone else hates this as much as I do? I try to be super careful, so it takes forever, my arm gets tired, then I get impatient and grumpy.

Amazingly, this cake is worth it.

  • 4 ounces German sweet chocolate
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups white sugar
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 7 ounces sweetened, flake coconut
  • 1½ cups chopped pecans
  1. To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 8 or 9 inch cake pans. The recipe called for lining the bottoms of the cake pans with wax or parchment paper, but I didn’t do that. I just greased it REALLY well! To be safe, you may want to use the parchment paper.
  2. Break the chocolate into small pieces and add to the boiling water to melt. You can also microwave the water and chocolate together for about 1½ minutes, if you prefer. I was trying to do it old school! Once smooth and melted, put into the fridge to cool.
  3. Sift together the cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes on medium. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition (save those egg whites – we’ll use them later!). Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture and the vanilla extract. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk; beat until smooth.
  5. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter.
  6. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until knife inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes before inverting into wire racks to cool completely.
  7. To make the frosting: Whisk together the egg yolks, milk, vanilla extract, butter, and sugar into a large pot. Cook over medium heat for 12-16 minutes, or until a light golden brown and thickened.
  8. Remove from heat and add the coconut and pecans. Stir well.
  9. Cool before frosting cake. Frosting will thicken while cooling.


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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Debbie September 8, 2012 at 9:09 am

I’ve made that same cake many times. I always added chocolate frosting on the sides. Yummy!


2 Jennifer September 8, 2012 at 9:29 am

Chocolate frosting sounds like a great addition!


3 Elizabeth @Food Ramblings September 8, 2012 at 9:46 am

Love this family recipe :) I found the same boxed recipes of my grandma’s secret recipes when going through her things!


4 Jennifer September 8, 2012 at 10:08 am

Love all the sneaky grandmas! :)


5 Amy September 10, 2012 at 10:18 am

It looks fabulous, and I think it’s hilarious that you think folding eggs into things is too time consuming when you probably spend hours upon hours on your cut out cookies!! Silly girl!


6 Jennifer September 10, 2012 at 10:25 am

Haha – that’s true! I just really dislike it for some reason – I always feel like I’m messing it up!


7 The BearFoot Baker September 10, 2012 at 10:46 am

Looks amazing! It is so funny! How many times do we ask people for recipes only to have them change the subject! LOL
PS- You can fold that egg in!! I know you can!! Go Jennifer!!! You can do it!! ;)


8 Jennifer September 10, 2012 at 11:11 am

Considering how much work sugar cookies are, you would think that folding in egg whites wouldn’t be a big deal! I guess it is kind of like vacuuming – it really isn’t that hard and doesn’t take lots of time, but I have this mental block that it is SOOO awful! :)


9 Julie December 2, 2012 at 1:46 am

My cake falls in the middle every time. Does anyone know what would cause that?
Other than that it tastes wonderful. One of our favorites.


10 Jennifer December 2, 2012 at 7:17 am

Hi Julie! A couple suggestions – how old are your leavening products? Old baking soda could cause this! Also, you may want to add a little more baking time. Your oven may not be heating to the correct temperature – an oven thermometer could help if you think your oven is underheating! Is this a problem you have with other cake recipes too? If so, your oven may be the culprit! Hope these suggestions help!


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